Thoughts from the ammo line

Ammo Grrrll writes in an elegiac key this week in remembrance of her friend HEATHER:

My mission as delineated by my excellent editor and friend, Scott, is both to help him with his self-defined anger management problem and to entertain. So I always feel guilty when I fail to entertain. Sometimes it just can’t be helped. Today is such a day.

There is no other way to say it: Delightful regular commenter Heather Beresford fought a brief, courageous battle with an aggressive Stage 4 cancer that had spread from her lungs to her brain, and passed away on April 26, 2019. Her beloved twin sister, Bonnie (Ladyhawk), her wonderful new husband, Bill, and I – and all of us in Heather’s large circle of friends and relatives and our commenter Family – have lost a world-class friend. The loss to those of us privileged to have known her well is pretty close to unbearable.

As a corporate speaker/entertainer for a few decades, I often opened with comedy before introducing The Big Deal Credentialed Speaker. Sometimes the credits they insisted I read in the overblown introduction stretched to three or four boring pages – degrees, honors, awards, and plaudits up the wazoo. But rarely did those three pages tell us anything about the character of the person who had earned the degrees. Yet the character of that person was often on display.

Some speakers would have contracts with page after page of “riders” like “I need to wash my hair two hours before the event in Evian water.” Or, “I will need a bowl of M & Ms in the green room with all the red ones picked out.” Or, “I require a limo ride the 200 feet from my hotel to the event center. I will not shake hands with any audience members at the rope line and I will leave to get the limo back to my hotel 3 minutes after my six-figure speech.” Hillary’s “riders” and demands were notorious, for example. Raise your hand if you’re surprised.

One famous speaker whom I shared a stage with in Pueblo, Colorado, for a women’s event would not even ride in the limo they provided for us because it was too old and “germ-filled” and she insisted on a brand new Cadillac off the lot to be schlepped around in. She also refused the nice flower-filled speakers’ suite the modest little Super 8 had made by combining two rooms and demanded to be taken instead to the private HOME of the hospital CEO whose hospital was sponsoring the event.

Why do I mention this? Because Heather’s CV would not have run to 3 or 4 pages, but she had more character in her little finger than most of those credentialed or celebrated folks have in their entire beings. I believe she had a B.A. from the University of Minnesota. She also earned a certification in a specialty in the aerospace industry rather late in life for which she studied very hard while working full-time and caring for her late husband fighting COPD.

If that doesn’t demonstrate enough “character,” try this. When Heather was first diagnosed with this wretched, evil disease, it was in early March, just before three separate groups of relatives booked consecutive stays at our casita. Heather hesitated to tell me about her diagnosis because she was afraid it might “spoil my fun” with my relatives. THAT kind of character and selflessness is what I am talking about. The mind boggles.

I first met Heather in 9th grade Social Studies where, due to the happy coincidence of our having last names beginning with “B,” she sat behind me. She was an adorable young lady, smart as a whip, with a terrific sense of humor and a raucous, ready laugh. I actually kind of worshiped her, in that Platonic way that young Nerd Grrrlls often are in awe of the more socially-successful girls. Plus, she came with a terrific bonus — an identical twin, Bonnie! – with whom I actually became even closer due in part to the fact that Heather was “cooler” and more self-confident than either of us at that time.

The twins were somewhat exotic to me in that they had moved to Alexandria from Canada, which it turns out, is an entirely different country from ours with weird money and everything. They drank TEA instead of coffee. They watched and understood hockey and cared not a whit for baseball, if you can imagine such a thing when the Minnesota Twins were a brand-new exciting franchise with Harmon Killebrew and Camilo Pascual! Sometimes they even ended their sentences with “eh.”

Their mother, whom I also adored, had been determined from their birth to keep them as individuals, not naming them typical “twin” names like Cindy and Mindy, dressing them differently, and the like. And INDIVIDUALS they both were. In spades. A lot of people we meet kind of remind us of other people we have met, but not these women.

We have known each other for just shy of 60 years, through several husbands (well, I only got the one, but they made up for it), tough times, differing political outlooks for a while, and vast geographical separation. As a blessing in the last decade or so, we became as close again as we had been in high school. I wouldn’t have traded a day of it for all the tea in China and Canada put together. I loved Heather right down to the marrow of my bones and will miss her every day.

Bonnie is still here. She was a godsend to Heather in her hours of greatest need, and is an invaluable surrogate-daughter to my Daddy in Alexandria, Minnesota, and my Best Friend Forever. Bonnie and I discussed our intentions to “live twice as loud” to make up for the years of life missing for Heather. She would like that.

We will also miss Heather’s vote in 2020. Unlike me, she never for a minute flirted with the claptrap that was ’60s leftism. She was kind, loyal, generous to a fault, witty and wise and madly in love with her new husband, Bill. She made online friends with several Power Line commenters and was a devoted reader and prolific commenter.

When Fridays come and I don’t see her name among the commenters that will be a certain sign that this tragedy really happened and I will have to move on from Denial to another stage of grief. As a wise new friend gently pointed out, for those of us who do not die young, it falls to us to miss and mourn the ones who do. Tough duty. But an honor to do so. For those who don’t think 72 is young, well, you are mistaken. Particularly in the case of this youthful, fun-loving delight of a woman.

I read once that the final words (generally unpublished I would guess) on most “black boxes” recovered from airline crashes are “Oh, sh*t”. Unseemly though that is, that’s how I feel, too, from this tragedy leaving a hole in my world. Call your friends and tell them how much they mean to you while you still can. Leave no love unexpressed.

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